It is 1954, and Libby Strong (Bette Davis) and her younger sister Sarah Webber (Lillian Gish) have returned to the small Maine island for the summer, just as they have done for the past 60 years. Libby is now blind and Sarah has cheerfully looked after her for 15 years. As girls they had
stood on the cliffs and watched for whales. Now the whales come no more. Sarah still anticipates their appearance and wants to put in a new picture window, but Libby, who has grown bitter and cynical, thinks it would be frivolous and vetoes the idea. Tisha Doughty (Ann Sothern), their lifelong
friend and the island's resident busybody, pays them a visit and tries to persuade Sarah ...